Russell & Lazarus February/March 2020

Exclusively handling serious and catastrophic personal injury claims as well as wrongful death claims due to the negligence of individuals or business entities.

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The Right Help When You Need It Most!




February/March 2020


ACCOUNTABILITY ... And Why One Should Never Jump Out of a Perfectly Good Airplane

negligence if you sign a release form beforehand. When I went skydiving, I had to sign several releases that protected the company should something happen. However, what most lay people don't realize is that these forms only cover "normal" negligence; they don't cover "gross" negligence. The difference between the two can sometimes be a close call, and normally, the trier of fact (the jurors) is making the call. As an example, if the parachute company forgot to tighten one of the straps, causing a malfunction, they would argue that is "normal" negligence. However, if they forgot to put the parachute on the back of a customer and had them jump out of the plane, that would clearly be "gross negligence." There are other areas where bad actors attempt to avoid being held responsible. We see that constantly in the area of arbitration agreements, be it the employment setting or just signing up for a credit card. "Arbitration" is stacked against the consumer because it is the last of the old-boy networks where the arbitrators see the same defense attorneys over and over again, and in order to keep getting the business from those attorneys, the arbitration awards are either small or are in favor of the defense. We do have an election coming up in the fall that will have a proposition on the ballot to hold the medical community accountable for mistakes they make in causing injury and death by negligent actions. The cap

as to what someone can currently recover for being injured or for a family member who is killed by a medical professional is $250,000. That amount was set in 1975 and has not been indexed for inflation, which would put it at closer to $900,000. Can you imagine your child or your elderly mother or father dying as a result of a nurse or doctor doing something wrong and having an insurance company tell you that the value of their life was $250,000? The law needs to be updated if accountability has anything to do with practicing medicine. Another area that desperately needs updating (but the insurance lobbyists up in Sacramento pay the politicians to not change the law) is the $15,000 minimum car insurance that can be purchased to drive a car legally in California. That $15,000 limit has been in place for over 50 years! Heck, a ride to the hospital in an ambulance can cost you $15,000 these days! When the politicians decide that protecting the public is more important than getting reelected, the law will be changed. (I am not holding my breath.) My hope for the new year is that we will continue to hold each other accountable. No matter where we find ourselves, we all need to know when to fight for the accountability of others and when to be accountable for our own actions.

When I was 54, my 21-year-old daughter asked me to join her on her birthday as she got into an airplane, strapped on a parachute, and jumped out thousands of feet in the air. I decided it would be a wonderful new experience, so I joined her. By the time the day ended, I was transported away with a broken leg, and I had no one to blame but myself. Accountability applies to everyone, no matter where you stand in life. Even though I was carefully instructed on what to do, I didn’t follow the directions as well as I should have. As I landed, I didn’t lift my legs up as high as I was supposed to, and I had to take responsibility for what happened to me. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, especially as we make our way into the new year. There are a lot of big events coming up, including the election in November, and many of these events have to do with accountability. As trial attorneys, my team and I ensure people are held accountable for their actions. Acts of negligence that cause injury are the basis for the claims we make on behalf of our clients. In California, many businesses are released from normal

– Chris Russell

RUSSELL & LAZARUS APC 1401 Dove Street | Suite 310 | Newport Beach, CA 92660 Direct: 949-851-0222 Toll Free: 800-268-9228


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